This famous and interesting surname has two at least, possible and distinct origins, although both are French. Firstly it may be a patronymic deriving from the Breton personal name "Iodoc", a diminutive of "Juidcaelh", meaning 'lord', and introduced by the Normans into England at the Invasion of 1066. Although the 1086 Domesday Book is silent in regard to the name, both 'Josce' and 'Iocius' are recorded in the 1150 rolls of the city of Lincoln. Secondly the name may be of French locational origins from the village of Josse sur Mer, in Calvados, Normandy, and this latter may account for Sir John de Joce, recorded at the 1308 Dunstable Tournament.In the modern idiom the surname has several spelling variants including Joice, Joisce, Joss, Josse, Joicey, Joysey, Joyce and Jowsey. The surname also became popular in Ireland, where it was first introduced in 1283 by a Welshman, Thomas de Jorse, who married the daughter of O'Brien the Prince of Thomond. Amongst the many famous namebearers were George Joyce (1620 - 1670), a parliamentarian officer who was sent by Oliver Cromwell, although subsequently denied, to seize the 'kings person' (Charles 1st in 1646) from Holmby House, in Northamptonshire. Subsequently Joyce was very active in promoting the King's trial and subsequent execution, and was rewarded with the Governorship of the Isle of Portland in 1650. He later fell out with both Cromwell and Charles 11, being exiled to Rotterdam. James Joyce (1882 - 1944), who wrote "Dubliners", and his better known work, "Ulysses", found world-wide fame. A Coat of Arms granted to a family has the blazon of a silver shield thereon a double headed eagle displayed gules, overall a fesse ermine. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de Jorz, which was dated 1234, in the "Place Names Book of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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